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Frequently Asked Questions on ATA 66

Frequently Asked Questions on ATA 66

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  • What is Ultra ATA/66?

    Ultra ATA/66, also known as Ultra DMA/66, enhances existing ATA (IDE) technology by increasing both performance and data integrity. This new high-speed interface doubles the Ultra ATA/33 burst data transfer rate to 66.6 Mbytes/sec. The result is maximum disc performance using the current PCI local bus environment. For more in depth information, see our ATA to Ultra ATA/66 Technology Paper. Go to Top

  • How does Ultra ATA/66 attain faster transfer rates?

    Ultra ATA/66 removes bottlenecks associated with data transfers, especially during sequential operations. Ultra ATA/66 requires a special 40-pin, 80-conductor cable that reduces noise bleed-over and improves signal integrity by providing 40 additional ground lines between each of the standard 40-pin ATA signal lines and ground lines. Go to Top

  • Who is developing Ultra ATA/66 Drives?

    Ultra ATA/66 is endorsed by all leading hard drive manufacturers including Seagate, Fujitsu, IBM, Maxtor, Quantum, Toshiba, Western-Digital, and others. The Ultra ATA/66 protocol is also endorsed by Intel with full industry support expected in 1999. Go to Top

  • Is Ultra ATA/66 backward compatible with my current Ultra ATA/33 system?

    Yes. Ultra ATA/66 hard drives are 100 percent backward compatible with both Ultra ATA/33 and DMA and with existing ATA hard drives, CD-ROM drives, and host systems. The Ultra ATA/66 protocol and commands are designed to be compatible with existing ATA devices and systems. Although a new 40-pin, 80-conductor cable is required for Ultra ATA/66, the system board chip set pin connector remains the same at 40. Hard drives that support Ultra ATA/66 also support Ultra ATA/33 and legacy ATA specifications. Go to Top

  • What is required to run in Ultra ATA/66 Mode?

    There are basically four requirements:
    • An Ultra ATA/66-capable system board and BIOS. (External Ultra ATA/66 cards are available.)
    • An Ultra ATA/66-capable 80-conductor cable.
    • An operating system capable of DMA transfers. (Windows 95 (OSR2) and Windows 98 are capable.)
    • An Ultra ATA/66-capable device. (Seagate drives require an activation utility for each device.)
    Ultra ATA/66 technology is defined such that the PC and the hard drive can both detect the presence of the required 80-conductor cable. The system board must have a special capacitor on pin 34 to detect the cable. The cable must have a notch cut in line 34 to correctly detect an Ultra ATA/66 device. Go to Top

  • Where can I get the utility to activate Ultra ATA/66 on my drive?

    Eventually, all Ultra ATA/66 drives will be shipped with the utility either on diskette or CD-ROM. In the interim, the utility (UATA66.EXE) can be downloaded from

    The version available on the web is a self-extracting zip file and must be unzipped and placed on a bootable diskette. Go to Top

  • Why is there a blue, a black, and a gray connector on my Ultra ATA/66 cable?

    The 40-pin, 80-conductor cables support the Cable Detect feature. The blue (end) connector should be connected to the system board. The black (end) connector is known as the master position. The gray (middle) connector can be used for slave devices. Although an Ultra ATA/66 device should work fine in either the black or the gray connector, if you are having difficulty, consider troubleshooting with the drive in the black connector. Go to Top

  • Can I mix Ultra ATA/33 and Ultra ATA/66 drives on the same cable?

    Yes, a legacy ATA specification drive can coexist with an Ultra ATA/66 drive, and both devices can attain their maximum performance. However, for the Ultra ATA/66 device to attain Ultra DMA 4 mode, an Ultra ATA/66 capable cable is required. Go to Top

  • What operating systems support Ultra ATA/66?

    Primarily because the operating system is not the controlling factor, most operating systems, including all current Windows versions (Windows 95 (OSR2) and Windows 98), support Ultra ATA/66. Ultra ATA data transfer rate is determined by your hard drive, your controller, and the BIOS. The only requirement on the operating system is to be able to support DMA transfers. Go to Top

  • Do I need a special Ultra ATA/66 device driver?

    Not necessarily. Because the operating system (Windows 95/98) handles Ultra ATA and Ultra ATA/66 the same as DMA, there should be no special device drivers. However, as with Ultra ATA, not all system boards and BIOSs will correctly interface with the operating system. In these cases, a special device driver or patch will have to be provided by the system board manufacturer to make the system capable of attaining Ultra ATA/66. Go to Top

  • What are some common troubleshooting steps?
    1. Make sure the cable is Ultra ATA/66 capable. An Ultra ATA/66-capable cable is a 40-pin, 80-conductor cable with a black connector on one end, a blue connector on the other end and a gray connector in the middle. In addition, line 34 on the cable should be notched or cut (this may be difficult to see with the human eye).

    2. Make sure the system board is capable of Ultra ATA/66. An Ultra ATA/66 capable system board has a detect circuit with a capacitor for detecting line 34 missing on the cable. If there is no capacitor, the system can wrongly detect the presence of an Ultra ATA/66 cable and therefore try to configure the device for a higher transfer rate.

    3. Some system boards may not successfully handle Ultra ATA/66 on both ATA channels. If you have difficulty, consider troubleshooting with the device in the Primary Master position.

    4. Contact the system board manufacturer for the latest BIOS upgrade and any Ultra ATA/66 special device drivers or patches.

    5. Make sure the operating system is DMA capable and that the DMA mode is activated. (For Windows 95/98, check Device Manager | Drive Settings tab for a check box.)

    6. Make sure the drive is Ultra ATA/66 capable and has been configured to run at Ultra ATA/66 transfer rates. (Seagate drives require an Ultra ATA/66 activation utility.)
    Go to Top

(Source: SeagateTechnology)

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